"Safety Soapbox" Archive - July 2000
Preparation and Training
The first aspect of safety is to avoid accidents. However, if you
spend enough time over enough years in a dangerous environment an accident
of some severity is likely. So the second aspect is being prepared to
handle this, and hopefully to keep it manageable if possible.
After being hit by the rockfall on Mt Hoods Sandy
Glacier Headwall (or traversing to it, actually) we were able to
handle the situation as well as possible. Several things were helpful
here. First, we had identified a safe area upon rounding Yokum Ridge.
This meant that we wasted no time after the rockfall stopped. I was
only able to travel until the adrenaline ceased to overcome the shock,
and we barely made it to a safe spot. We could not have afforded to
waste time deciding what to do or where to go. Second, we had enough
medical training and basic supplies
to stabilize our injuries without any panic. We spent five hours on
this before calling for outside assistance, to be certain we weren't
doing so unnecessarily. Finally, we had two different types of communication
capability. Redundancy is good in many locations. (See the July 2000 Accident Analysis for a situation
where communications were not possible.)
We were fortunate not to face any technical transportation challenges
on steep terrain. No raising or lowering was required, which was
good since we had been in an exposed area when we were hit. But if it had been necessary
both of us had the training to do this.
So in addition to learning to assess and minimize risk to a level
acceptable to you it is also important to acquire as many tools as possible
to handle an emergency. Because the risk is never zero.
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